The effect of cognitive structuring procedures on male elementary school student behavior

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

John H. Croghan - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of cognitive structuring in reducing the frequency of misbehaviors of male elementary school students. One hundred eighty students were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups (cognitive structuring or cognitive structuring plus a punitive consequence) or control (punitive consequence with no cognitive structuring) conditions. The treatments were conducted when students were referred to the office for disciplinary reasons. Cognitive structuring included verbal instruction about rules, reasons for rules, misbehaviors, and alternative behaviors.Frequency counts of misbehavior following the office referral were recorded by teachers for five days. Findings from an analysis of variance showed the frequency of misbehaviors of students who received cognitive structuring plus punitive consequences were significantly higher than the other two groups (p =.0087).Interviews and information collected from discipline forms provided qualitative data regarding office referrals. Physical aggression and inappropriate verbalizations were the most common reasons for referrals. Structured student and teacher interviews indicated that behavior improved following disciplinary office referrals. The incidence of multiple office referrals resulted in a 29% rate of recidivism during the course of the study. Recommendations for further research and suggestions for practitioners were offered.


Psychology, Behavioral; Education, Administration; Education, Elementary

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